Deadline Funnel Looms for New Iowa Cannabis Oil Bill

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A bill legalizing the making and selling of cannabis oil in Iowa faces the deadline funnel, this week.

A view of the Iowa State Capital dome photographed, Wednesday February 9, 2011 in Des Moines. (Becky Malewitz/SourceMedia Group News)

The House Commerce Subcommittee will review H.S.B. 607, Tuesday at 8:00 a.m.

Thanks to legislation, passed in 2014, cannabis oil is technically legal to use in Iowa for help with chronic epilepsy. But, lawmakers neglected to go further.

It’s illegal to sell cannabis oil in the state or bring it in from other states.

“You can't do anything," said Iowa House Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton). "Really, the bill we passed a couple years ago isn't being effective."

Kaufmann worked with House Commerce Committee Chair Peter Cownie to create H.S.B. 607, which Cownie announced last week.

The legislation would expand the current law, allowing for creation, distribution and sale of cannabis oil to help with, not only epilepsy, but also some cancer treatment conditions, incurable pain, M.S. and others.

Patients would need to apply for a registration card in order to use the substance.

“Those that need help," said Kaufmann, "under this bill, will finally get it."

H.S.B. 607 would direct Public Health to issue four manufacturing licenses by the first of December, 2016. Those manufactures could grow marijuana in Iowa, but would be required to cultivate the plant and create cannabis oil in a locked facility, 1,000 feet away from existing schools.

“I think it's historic that, for the first time in Iowa, we've had a Republican introduce a bill on medical cannabis," said Iowa Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) "That's a big deal in and of itself."

Bolkcom sponsored a similar bill in 2015. It got through the Iowa Senate, which Democrats narrowly control, but died after reaching the firmly Republican Iowa House.

This time around, House Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) has been critical of the bill. She's said Iowa doctors worry they’ll lose their license writing prescriptions for cannabis oil seeing as the FDA hasn’t approved marijuana for medical use.

“I still really believe that the FDA is the arbiter of what is a medication," Upmeyer told Iowa Radio. "And making sure that the safety, the quality — all those things is the same for any medication.”

The bill faces the February 19th deadline funnel, which means it needs to reach approval in a House committee to stay alive.